Scenes from the Maryland Manor Demolition

Here’s what’s going down over at 1717 Bissonnet. Making way for the Ashby Highrise — whose developers this week signed new builder Pepper-Lawson Construction to replace Linbeck, which decided to back out earlier this year — the salvaging and knocking down of Maryland Manor started last week. And this is what things looked like this morning:


That view is from the main entrance near that swan sign on Bissonnet.

Below: Piles of mattresses, carpet, and light fixtures wait behind the construction fence along Bissonnet to be removed; that red tape cautions about asbestos.

Below: This view is from Ashby St.:

Photos: Allyn West

31 Comment

  • Yay! When is the next high rise in the area going to be proposed?

  • Rise Ashby, rise! May you cast a cold shadow on every pool and flower of the NIMBYs.

  • there are two high-rises proposed for the Medical Ctr

  • And I see the “yeah go Ashby, block out the sun!” Crowd has arrived. Cheering for the cult of “don’t like it, leave”
    It’s easy to criticize rich people when they complain about a badly sited luxury high rise. But just wait until someone proposes an ill-conceived development near your home. Doesn’t have to be a luxury high rise. Could be a waste transfer station (ask the people in Glenshire) or a concrete crushing plant (ask the people in Sunnyside) or a SRO for homeless men (ask the people in Eastwood).
    Will you take your own advice and flee for the hills?

  • Does anyone remember if there was any controversy when they put up the residential high rise that’s at Kirby and San Felipe?

  • Kirby and San Felipe have a combined 10 lanes and one protected turning lane. Compare that to Ashby @ Bissonnet.

    Also, The Huntington was built next door to an office tower than had been standing for over 15 years before the condo came along and is across the street from a sprawling elementary school and park. The Ashby’s neighbors are single family homes and 1 business located in a former single family home.

  • More than that, doofus – the Huntingdon is set far back from its lot line. It’s a Corbusian ‘tower in the park.’ The Ashby High Rise extends to its legally imposed building setback lines.

  • There was uproar in the 1980s, if I recall correctly, about the Tealstone which is directly adjacent to single family homes with yards on three sides. I can’t say that this project damaged the neighborhood, in my opinion. It’s on a four-lane thoroughfare with no cross street at all.

    The traffic issue is a non-starter. The increment of traffic generated going from Maryland Manor to the tower just isn’t going to be meaningful. Multifamily just doesn’t generate that much site-specific traffic, especially when compared with office or retail development.

    Difference in height and “character” should in no way shape or form be used as the basis for disallowing development on unrestricted parcels that happen to be next to single family. That applies to the Heights folks too – you should not be able to use legal means to stop the 3.5 story faux-Victorian McMansion next to your 1-story bungalow. That would be bad planning policy for the city.

  • We already left.

  • I just really don’t see this making the slightest dent in home value for this neighborhood. Except for the houses next door to this tower. What are the rents for a one bedroom at this place? Like $1750? $2000?

  • To all the NIMBY’s claiming that Ashby is going to destroy your property value,I have a proposition for you; Sign a contract selling your home to me for delivery and payment three years from now at today’s market price (as determined by recent sales comps). If Ashby is really that bad and is going to destroy the value of your house, this is a great offer. Bottom line, put your money where your mouth is.

  • So when is the pity party?

  • “The Ashby’s neighbors are single family homes and 1 business located in a former single family home.”

    Doofus you need to walk around a little instead of just driving 90 mph down Bissonnet. There are duplexes, fourplexes, a couple of small 4-8 unit apartment buildings and of course the townhouses next door.

  • At the rate things are going this will still be an empty lot in 2045.

  • Number one, The Tealstone is much smaller than this building and the street it’s on has 4 lanes. Nunber two, you’d have to be an F$$king idiot to compare this Ashby thing to the Huntingdon is River Oaks–geeez, there are some idiots on this site

  • My wife and I were fortunate enough to find (and purchase) and older home on the outer fringes of Boulevard Oaks last fall. After dutifully paying our neighborhood dues, I was approached about staking a STOP ASHBY HIGH RISE placard in our front yard. I politely declined.

    While I am not a fan of the project, I do understand/respect the legal aspirations of the now much maligned property developers, and I have even come to enjoy the urban chaos that is nOzone Houston.

    That said, the exuberant schadenfreude exhibited by many Swamplot readers (kjb434) strikes me as small, simple-minded, and generally mean spirited.

  • @elultimo–well said,couldn’t agree more.

  • Rise high, Ashby!

  • Walt, the people right next to this should take you up on your offer. I like your put up or shut up attitude. How is your credit by the way?

  • I agree with LHD, the beater rentals on the North side of Wroxton should take Walt up on it. I bet if Walt rolled in today and offered to buy them they would sell today. Why wait 3 years! Own a piece of the game now. Or are you not interested in putting your money where your mouth is?

    I agree with elultimo. We bought in the hood knowing it was coming soon and frankly not being too concerned. I do think there will be more traffic than folks are giving it credit for. Not the kind of traffic that a park-in would show you but the kind that will make turns from Ashby or Dunlavy on to Bissonnet a real treat. I’m just put off by the hate speech spewing from some folks. I hope you all get transfer stations or walmarts in your backyards just so you can show me how weak I am for not wanting a tower in my backyard.

  • @ ZAW
    While I understand you’re sentiment, I believe you’ve stumbled on a false equivalence.
    Luxury apartments are not the same as a concrete crushing plant, transfer station, etc. A) (and also brought up by earlier posters) There’s no proof that properties values will decline. B) There is no zoning in Houston and ppl knew that when they bought the house they’re living in.
    What gets everyone upset is that the whole ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ attitude of the ppl in the area. The attitude that b/c their house / neighborhood is expensive, they get special treatment.
    Instead of fighting ONE project in THEIR neighborhood, the ppl of Boulevard Oaks could have tried to push for a larger neighborhood integrity / semi-zoning / zoning ordinance. Then people of all stripes could have gotten behind this effort and might have pulled in those concerned with the projects that you mentioned earlier. However, that might have mixed the ‘haves’ and the ‘poors’ together. YUCK!

  • DNA guy – in the case of the Ashby High Rise, the fact that they’re luxury apartments has never been the issue. The issue has always been the relative size of the building relative to its neighbors, and relative to the width of the street it’s on. It’s ten times the height of its neighbors, and directly abuts them. This is really what makes it an unwanted development and this is why I put it in the same category as the concrete crushing plant and the others I mentioned.
    Furthermore, it’s not fair to say that the Ashby Neighbors are getting an unfair advantage or that they think the rules dont apply to them. When Southern Crushed Concrete tried to build its crushing plant in Sunnyside – one of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods – the City responded with a new ordinance requiring buffer zones between concrete crushing plants and neighborhoods. If memory serves, They denied the permit, even though TCEQ had approved it, and were sued because there were questions about whether cities have the right to preempt the State. It’s not hard to see the parallels with the Ashby High Rise fight.
    And let’s be clear, even if Houston had zoning, we’d still risk fights like this. If developers really want to build something that doesn’t meet the zoning requirements, they can apply for variances – and then the fight goes on. I’d encourage you to read the book “NIMBY WARS – The Politics of Land Use”
    All of that said, aside from being on a really, really inappropriate site, 1717 Bissonnet isn’t a bad building. The massing is nice. It wins points for street level retail. As I’ve said before, if it were in a different place, say, the site where they’re putting that Audi dealership at 59 and Greenbriar, it’d be a real winner.

  • My favorite part of the stop ashby high rise website:

    Q: Isn’t your protest just a veiled attempt at zoning?

    A: We are NOT advocating zoning. Rather our intent is to stop this project and others like them.

    How is that not zoning? and how is zoning bad if you want to stop all projects like this? If there were only a way to have rules that could limit height and density of development within some proximity to single family residential areas or zones…

  • “What gets everyone upset is that the whole ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ attitude of the ppl in the area. The attitude that b/c their house / neighborhood is expensive, they get special treatment.”

    It’s not just an attitude. They DID get special treatment. Particularly from two mayors who violated their oath of office with regard to the city charter. I don’t recall either calling for a referendum on zoning. Instead they devoted the tazxpayer’s money to fighting two developers who had and still have every legal right to build what they want, within the parameters of applicable ordinances, on unretsricted land. That is the law. Some in Southampton and Boulevard Oaks took the position that the law doesn’t apply to them. And two mayors and a number of other elected officials pandered to them to ensure a “campaign war chest” and anyone who thinks that was not the sole motivation is a fool. And of course the two “co-chairs” of the “Stop Ashby” gang are partners in one of the more powerful law firms. Who obviously used that as a “bargaining point” with Bill White and Annise Parker. We, the taxpayers, paid for the city to defend itelf in a lawsuit. And may have to do so again at some point given the obvious reality that these people intend to make good on their threat to harass not only the developers but anyone asociated with the ddevelopers. Last time I checked, harassment is againt the law. Both civil and criminal law. But then these people, again, believe the law doesn’t apply to them. And as a result they, not the developers, have turned a very desirable neighborhood into a very undesirable neighborhood. Who wants to live around a bunch of bullies which is really in the end what they are. Just a bunch of bullies. Pretentious spoiled brat bullies.

  • @DNAguy- Well said.

  • @ZAW
    As MM points out, they did get preferential treatment.
    There is no legitimate reason for the CITY to fight a legal residential development in a non-zoned area for no reason other than the it doesn’t fit the neighborhoods ascetics. That is why zoning exits. To protect / mold development in an area. The fact that the rich live there is the only reason they fought it.
    The city fought the concrete plant b/c it has true health implications for a marginalized minority who can’t afford to fight development on their own. It’s not as if the ppl of Sunnyside just didn’t like the fact that a concrete plant blocks their lovely view of the sky, had the means to fight it, but refused to pay.
    So why don’t we have another zoning vote? Certainly we can craft a zoning measure that could fit Houston. If the data on new housing starts is true anyway, most ppl are moving to the suburbs, where there is no zoning to speak of. I find it strange that people believe that no zoning in the city somehow sparks growth in the metro area when the city of Houston only accounts for 1/3 of the metropolitan area population (2 MM ppl vs 6 MM ppl) and the rate of growth outside of the city limits is also greater than within the city. So many ‘Houstonians’ that are proud of our non-zoning city aren’t even living in the city. And the ones who have the means AND needs for zoning, use their influence to only fight for their neighborhood (Afton Oaks I’m looking at you too).
    You’ve encapsulated the exact point I’ve meandered upon with your post. +1

  • And doesn’t the Woodlands and Sugarland have zoning?!
    i’m pretty sure those areas aren’t withering away under the strangulating forces of terrible, terrible zoning.

  • Ha! Speaking of bullies, Read: ANYTHING EVER WRITTEN ON ASHBY OR ITS VICINITY ON SWAMPLOT EVER. The comments are all NIMBY this, NIMBY that, oh how much do those houses go for again? Rich pretentious, probably corrupt NIMBY that… Considering the push-back on the project and the fact that the outliers that keep telling Boulevard Oaks to just grin and bear it wouldn’t be able to afford to live in the building out of spite, then the developers might want to reconsider. Just take a look at what the bad press has done to the Museum Tower in Dallas.

  • I dont’t have a dog in the hunt. My only question is how Matt Mystery gets around with that huge chip on his shoulder. I don’t think I’ve seen an Ashby update without him firing off about the “spoiled pretentious brats” of Southhampton. Kind of sad really.

  • I don’t have a chip on my shouder. I just don’t like pretentious spoiled brats. Particularly when they start bullying people. And harassing people.

  • Agree with MysteryMatt.